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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Africa and the American South

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our lesson this week was on Africa and the American South. The students entered the classroom to the sound of music traditionally sung by American slaves in the south.

I was happy to learn that many of the students in Mrs. Gunter's class at VA Heights had a great understanding of the history of African American slaves, and of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's peaceful work for civil rights.

Our lesson was based on the following excerpt written by Dr. Antonia DeMas:

African Americans first came to the United States as slaves. The slaves had “owners” who usually fed them the foods they did not want. But the African Americans were very imaginative with the foods given to them. This food was called Soul Food.

African Slaves brought okra, black-eyed peas, peanuts and sesame seeds with them to the United States on the slave ships. Okra is still very popular in the American South.

Most slave families were given a small plot of land on which to grow their own vegetables. Turnip and collard greens, black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes were among their favorite foods to grow and eat. Black-eyed peas are high in protein, taste delicious, and are easy to dry and store for later use. Molasses is made from sugarcane. Sugarcane is one of the plants that sugar is made from. Molasses is made by boiling down the sugarcane and squeezing the liquid out. African Americans used molasses because it was a sugar by-product and not viewed as desirable as white sugar. Molasses is a good source of calcium, potassium and iron.

For a black slave family, living on a plantation and working in the fields all day, mealtime was something to look forward to at the end of the day, a time to share food, singing and socializing. Soul music is a heartfelt expression of feelings intertwined with the process and smells of cooking.

Soul Food and Soul Music evolved as a way to make you feel good all over and to speak to your very soul.

Many of the students LOVED the Soul Stew we made together! Quite a few eeven asked for seconds!

Soul Stew

1 TBS canola oil or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 cups pre-cooked or canned black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed)
2 cups corn (frozen, thawed)
2 cups collard greens, washed and chopped or frozen, thawed
1 cup okra (frozen, thawed)
2 TBS molasses
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Saute onion, garlic, and pepper in the oil.
Add the tomatoes. Simmer for one minute.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat about fifteen minutes.

Serve with Tobasco sauce, if desired.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Delicious Black Bean Chili Recipe!

(serves 6, recipe from Williams-Sonoma "Winter" cookbook)

2 1/4 cups dried black beans (rinsed and picked over)
3 TBS olive oil
3 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped
6 TBS chili powder
3 TBS ground cumin
1/4 cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz each)
salt and pepper
cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Pick over the beans and discard any damaged beans or impurities. Rince and place in a bowl. Add water to cover generously. Let soak for about 3 hours. Drain the beans and set aside.

In large heavy saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Saute the onions, peppers and garlic until onions are soft (about 10 minutes). Add spices and saute, stirring, about 2 minutes longer. Add beans, tomatoes and water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are very tender and begin to fall apart, about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Add more water if the beans begin to dry out but are not yet cooked.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished wtih cilantro and shredded cheese or sour cream

Serve at once

Friday, January 14, 2011

Black Bean Salsa

Black Bean Salsa
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), or two cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small jalepeno (seeded and chopped) (optional!)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup corn (thawed)
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1 tsp cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime
pinch of salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl to serve. Great with tortilla chips (be sure to choose chips made from NON-GMO corn!) as a side dish, in a burrito with brown rice and hot sauce, or on top of grilled fish!

Homemade Hummus

Happy Healthy
Homemade Hummus

(Use a food processor or blender)

1 - 2 cloves garlic
1 can Chick Peas/ Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed - reserve liquid!)
2 TBS tahini
2 TBS olive oil
Juice from 1/4 - 1/2 lemon
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
Reserved chick pea liquid

Process garlic first, to mince.
Add the rest of the ingredients and process/blend for 2 - 3 minutes, adding some of the reserved liquid to make a smooth consistency.

Serve as a dip with baby carrots, celery sticks, red pepper strips, or whole grain pita pieces. Also great as a sandwich spread!

Saturday, January 1, 2011